On April 11, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, spoke before the Chamber to present the budget tabled on April 7 by the Government of Canada.
A budget tabled in a difficult context
Minister Freeland started by reviewing the unique context in which the new federal budget was presented.
“Our macroeconomic climate is uncertain, with COVID, stress on supply chains, the geopolitical situation, and inflation.” – Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Canada
The Minister reassured the audience about inflation, which is a concern for individuals and businesses. She says it is a challenge that must be tackled globally.
“Montréal is a highly international city, and inflation is a global phenomenon. In Canada, inflation is high, but we are in a better position than the U.S., for example.”
To shield itself from this uncertainty, the government is banking on fiscal responsibility.
“We have opted for a responsible fiscal approach. It’s a major insurance policy for Canada.”
Productivity, the focus of the 2022-2023 budget
The Minister paid tribute to SMEs that stayed the course through the many upheavals of the past few years.
“SMEs showed their resilience during the pandemic. The government chose to support them as much as possible. It was the right choice for our economic fabric.”
While economic indicators for activity and growth continue to be positive, the Minister positioned her budget from the perspective of innovation and growth.
“We want to invest in innovation and productivity. We are providing $1 billion in funding for a new agency that will support businesses in their growth.”
To support this productivity growth for Canadian businesses, the government wants to leverage education, immigration, and the integration of Indigenous peoples.
“We have a solid education system, and we are good at integrating immigrants. But we need to invest more in Indigenous peoples.”
Greening the economy to shape the future
The ambition of the new budget is to facilitate and accelerate the energy transition through all industrial sectors.
“We are trying to transform and green the entire industrial engine. We need to attract private capital by “de-risking” the energy transition. This is why we put in place our new Fund.”
This transition is a major undertaking, one that needs to be thought through on a national scale, according to Minister Freeland.
“We need a national approach, with a balanced policy across the country. We have created our Fund to make the transition. But this transition must be done according to the rules. And we need to be aware that such a huge undertaking will take time.”
Finally, the Minister looked at the importance of public transit in the transition and the impact of related investments on the vitality of downtown areas.
“Downtown areas are a vector of the Canadian economy. In March alone, we poured $750 million into municipal public transit. This is direct aid to downtown areas, which was not in the budget.”